As well as boosting your baby’s development, tummy time is a brilliant way to bond with your baby and gives you time to play together. And while your baby may not love it at first, it won’t be long until she loves her new view of the world.
When should you start?
You can start tummy time with your baby as soon as you feel ready – your baby can be just a few weeks old.
‘As long as she’s fully awake and comfortable it’s safe to try tummy time,’ says consultant paediatrician Dr Rahul Chodhari. ‘Some babies can get quite distressed during the first few times lying on their stomachs so make sure your baby’s happy, fed and changed before you begin.’
Try anything from 15 seconds to 20 minutes a few times a day – any amount of tummy time, no matter how brief, is beneficial. It’s best to start with short periods of time when you’re baby’s a few weeks old and build it up to around 20 minutes a day by the time she’s three to four months old.
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Just make sure you stay with her the entire time she’s on her stomach in case she’s unable to hold her head up and always put her to sleep on her back.
How to go about it?
Keep your baby company while she’s having her tummy time. Pop her on a baby blanket or a playmat on the floor – not on the sofa in case she rolls off.
READ: THE BEST PLAYMATS FOR YOUR NEWBORN BABY
If she’s very young (a few weeks old) and struggling to hold her head up on her own, gently turn her head to one side so she doesn’t struggle to breathe.
‘It’s a good idea to lie down on the floor beside her so she can see you,’ says Dr Rahul. ‘She’ll feel comforted and get less upset this way.’ If she does get grizzly, try waving a rattle or soft toy in her eye line to keep her entertained.
‘If your baby really doesn’t like it, you can place her upper body and arms over a nursing pillow to help support her,’ says Dr Rahal.
READ: 14 PERFECT TOYS FOR NEWBORN DEVELOPMENT
Why is it beneficial?
Tummy time is a great way to help develop your baby’s fine and gross motor skills – helping her learn to push herself up, roll over, sit up, crawl and eventually stand.
‘It allows your baby to improve, exercise and strengthen her neck control, which is fairly floppy when she’s a newborn,’ says Dr Rahal. ‘It also helps improve your baby’s orientation skills as it gives her a different view of the world.’
Tummy time can also help treat flat head syndrome as it takes the pressure off the back of her head and gives it a chance to round off.
READ: BABY HEALTH A-Z FLAT HEAD SYNDROME
How do you keep your baby happy during tummy time? Share your tips in the comments box below.